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Meeting Grace and Frankie

“Stuck in the middle with you….”

A few months ago I got an email from Jane Fonda through an introduction from one of our investors. She closed her note: “Can you help? Love Jane.” Of course, I can help. So I sent products and catalogs, answered questions and researched yam lubes. For any fans of Grace and Frankie, the story of two older women whose husbands, long-time law partners, leave their wives for each other, you will know why I was trying to learn about Say Grace Yam Lube. Actually, we had gotten calls about organic yam lube, which it turns out is not really made of yams, but yam extract which is a natural estrogen replacement. But I digress…

After a chain of emails with Jane, I was invited to meet with them and the team of writers at Paramount Studios. There was a special guest pass waiting for me at the gate, printed to look like a golden ticket. Star for the day. Their building was a circle in red. What is it about movie sets and movie stars that makes you feel like you are barely touching the ground? Maybe it’s the way that movies endure and the celebrities that make them have an immortal feel… Certainly, meeting with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, two women actresses that shaped my life long viewing of history was surreal.

Walking into the meeting with the full writing team, at least ten of them and one of the creative directors, the stage was set for their arrival. But what was most remarkable was that all of that star dust didn’t really settle on them at all. On the contrary, they were some of the most grounded and real people I have ever sat with. No pretensions, just real curiosity and interest in how I had learned about lubricants and sexual health and B-corps and organic certifications… They wanted to know, really wanted to listen, to my life experience.

Of course I would have liked some product placement and fantasized about having some cameo role as a lube competitor, but our friendship disintegrated when I shared my meeting with a local news channel. Although I was being interviewed about my new book, they turned the 10 second conversation into a spot on the show. Grace and Frankie’s creative director was incensed. She called me the day the piece appeared, mostly to vent. How dare I say I consulted? Well, maybe because I did. Here is what I learned about Hollywood… The reason we all lose our breath and the studios have this bigger-than-life feel is because we all believe that they are. Friendships in Hollywood are one-sided, and for that matter, most marriages, too. Everything is a secret, even things that are common knowledge. In their minds, me revealing that they met with me, would somehow ruin the surprise of their season.

So, since my scolding, I have felt like I had to keep my meeting a secret, even though Jane herself said she would post this picture of us on her blog. But after seeing the funny episodes in Season 2 about commercializing lubricant, I decided to not keep it a secret any longer. In fact, the most memorable moment in my meeting with Jane and Lily was when I thanked them both for the opportunity, and Lily said in her very Frankie like way, “What, are you kidding? You are the one out there doing the real work!”

Well, yes. Yes I am.